Reservoir generated just one corner kick in its 3A East regional semifinal game Saturday against Centennial.
Thanks to Michael Peprah and Emilio Rodas, however, that’s all the Gators needed.
Serving the ball in from the left corner midway through the second half, Rodas put the ball on the head of Peprah on the far post and the Gator senior did the rest.
“I created some space between myself and the defender so that when the ball was coming in I had enough room to get my head on it. I had to finish that one,” said Peprah, whose goal ended up being the lone score in a 1-0 Reservoir victory.
After a game full of near misses, the Gators’ patience paid off.
“We’ve been working on that type of a corner kick a good bit and it worked tonight,” Reservoir coach Reg Hahne said. “We didn’t generate too many of them, but we made the most of what we got.”
Centennial (12-2-1), which had defeated Reservoir (11-6) 4-0 during the regular season, couldn’t find the net down the stretch and ended up suffering its second loss of the year.
“It came down to being in the right place at the right time for them,” Centennial coach Jim Zehe said. “(Reservoir) certainly stopped us from doing what we wanted to do and took away the flow in the midfield that we’re used to having. They put themselves in position and they capitalized.”
Neither team found the net in the opening half, although Reservoir did establish early control of the midfield battle. Hahne said the confidence gained by the Gators’ shootout victory over Mt. Hebron in the regional quarterfinals played a role in the team’s energy.
“I think the Mt. Hebron game proved a lot to the kids what they could do and we carried that over into tonight,” Hahne said.
Things stayed deadlocked at zero until a Centennial failed clear attempt led to the deciding corner kick.
“Our team chemistry has been building and building,” Peprah said. “We came out today against a team that already beat us during the regular season and showed how much we have improved. We really brought it today.”
River Hill 2, J.M. Bennett 0
Reservoir now advances into a regional title game against River Hill, which defeated J.M. Bennett, 2-0, in the other 3A East semifinal.
The Hawks got a goal and an assist from both Zach Riso and Jake Turney. Riso’s goal gives him five goals now in the postseason, including at least one score in each of River Hill’s three playoff games.
“Zach is finding his comfort zone,” River Hill coach Matt Shagogue said. “We have been focusing a lot more on getting players forward and not just playing the ball up to Jake and then standing around watching him. Zach is one of the guys really stepping up and finishing.
“He’s worked real hard and it’s starting to come together at the right time.”
Riso was responsible for River Hill’s first goal against J.M. Bennett, finishing a ball served into the box by Turney just 45 seconds out of halftime.
Turney later added an insurance tally in the final minutes of regulation to secure the final two-goal margin. River Hill’s defense did the rest, securing its fourth straight shutout dating back to the final game of the regular season.
Shagogue said being able to play with the lead these last few games has made a big difference.